NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Roads And People Are A Problem

March 7, 2000

Some lawmakers on Capitol Hill are disturbed by a proposed rule the U.S. Forest Service is advancing that could restrict public access to the nation's forests. They fear activist litigators could use it to halt all future roadbuilding, effectively closing off vast areas to recreationists.

Roads are a problem, according to the proposal, because:

  • "Unwanted or non-native plant species can be transported on vehicles and clothing by users of roads, ultimately displacing native species."
  • "Roads allow people to travel into previously difficult or impossible to access areas, resulting in indirect impacts, such as ground and habitat disturbance, increased pressure on wildlife species, increased litter, sanitation needs and vandalism, and increased frequency of human-caused fires."

Politicians who are members of natural resources committees and staff aides were quick to criticize the Forest Service's proposals. "Those people want to return the forests to the conditions existing before Europeans landed on the continent," said Sen. Frank H. Murkowski (R-Alaska).

"Even if it is implemented with the rule of reason, the language of the rule is so amorphous that anyone who wants to stop a road from being built has more than enough ammunition to do it," said Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee senior staffer Mark Rey. According to the Forest Service, recreation use has climbed to an all-time high of 13.6 million vehicles per day on forest roads.

Source: Audrey Hudson, "Forest Service Proposal Sees People as Problem," Washington Times, March 7, 2000.


Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues